Defence Body Supports Scopa's Probe
The national assembly's defence committee on
Wednesday gave its backing to the procedures followed by parliament's watchdog
public accounts committee (Scopa) in its handling of the controversial
R43,8-billion arms deal.
Chairperson Thandi Modise said Scopa had the
support of her committee.
"It is necessary to acknowledge that you are
doing what is required of you," she said.
The defence committee's role was to look at
policy issues rather than financial matters, said Modise, adding: "You have
the support of the defence committee - we don't have expertise in matters of
Zuma accused the committee of seriously misdirecting
Modise said she had asked Scopa to formally brief
the defence committee on the state of the probe into the package because the
committee had previously received information only from press reports.
She said she was also concerned about the public
perception that her committee was not doing anything in this regard.
Scopa's handling of the deal has been severely
criticised by Deputy President Jacob Zuma and four cabinet ministers.
In a strongly worded letter, dated January 19 and
addressed to Scopa chairperson Gavin Woods, Zuma accused the committee of
seriously misdirecting itself, and arriving at decisions on the arms deal that
were not substantiated by facts.
Finance Minister Trevor Manuel, Trade and
Industry Minister Alec Erwin and Defence Minister Mosiuoa Lekota appeared before
the committee last month to explain their criticism of Scopa's resolution -
adopted by the national assembly in November - to parliament.
Along with Public Enterprises Minister Jeff
Radebe, the four told a press conference in January that the committee was
incompetent and irresponsible, and did not understand how arms deals worked.
Woods said Scopa would meet on March 14 to start
writing its second report to parliament about the probe.
With acknowledgement to Sapa and Independent Online.